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Shakespeare & Beyond

Excerpt: Shakespeare and the Folktale

What are the connections between traditional folktales and Shakespeare’s plays? Charlotte Artese, an English professor at Agnes Scott College in Georgia, sets out to explore these folktale sources in a new anthology of stories, Shakespeare and the Folktale, published October 22.

“Both folktales and Shakespeare’s plays are cultural survivors, thriving in scores of languages and cultures through the ages,” writes Artese. “Just as modern writers, playwrights, and filmmakers endlessly adapt Shakespeare’s plays, so Shakespeare drew from the tales in the culture of the time.”

Artese gathers these folktales, organizing them by play and commenting on their connections; the excerpt below comes from the anthology’s introduction.

  1. Synge, Aran Islands, 24. For some background on Synge’s travels in the Aran Islands, see Skelton, Four Plays, viii–ix.
  2. Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources, 1.463–76.